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Estonian Review 3 - 9 June 2009

12.06.2009

HIGH-RANKING UN REPRESENTATIVE VISITS ESTONIA
FOREIGN NEWS
DEFENCE NEWS
DOMESTIC NEWS
ECONOMIC NEWS



HIGH-RANKING UN REPRESENTATIVE VISITS ESTONIA

Humanitarian Aid an Essential Part of Estonian Foreign Policy

3 June
- UN Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Co-ordinator John Holmes visited Tallinn and met with Foreign Minister Urmas Paet, President Toomas Hendrik Ilves and Prime Minister Andrus Ansip.
In his meeting with UN Under-Secretary General Holmes, Foreign Minister Paet emphasised the UN's unique role in providing humanitarian aid to the world. UN Under-Secretary-General Holmes highlighted Estonia as a good example of a nation in which understanding of the importance of the humanitarian aid field and contributing to international co-operation has developed very quickly.
“During the past nine years, Estonian rescue experts have participated in 14 missions as members of the UN's international crisis evaluation and co-ordination unit,” noted Paet. Since the beginning of 2009, Estonia has also been a member of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and, as one of its vice presidents, is responsible for the field of humanitarian aid this year.
Throughout the years, Estonia has acquired the ability to provide rescue and humanitarian aid that meets international standards, which allows Estonia to send its teams to areas plagued by crises if necessary. In 2005, Estonian rescue experts were sent on two missions-to tsunami-ravaged Indonesia and post-earthquake Pakistan. In 2008 there was a mine-clearing mission to Georgia.
During the meeting, they also discussed problems concerning humanitarian aid, such as humanitarian aid being guaranteed access, its effectiveness, the safety of aid workers, and violence against women. Also addressed were the situations in conflict areas like Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Sudan.
The Estonian foreign minister and the UN Under-Secretary General opened a high-level humanitarian partnership seminar in Tallinn entitled “Humanitarian Partnership Forum for Emerging European Donors”. The conference was organised by the Estonian Foreign Ministry in co-operation with the Finnish Foreign Ministry and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). Its goal is to bring together donors with the goal of strengthening the UN's humanitarian aid policies and increasing financial support, as well as promoting OCHA's role as the co-ordinator of the UN humanitarian aid system.
Sir John Holmes also met with President of the Republic Toomas Hendrik Ilves.
When discussing development aid and humanitarian aid as a whole, President Ilves stressed that this form of aid must be well devised and focused as accurately as possible. “In a world suffering from recession, characterised by a scarce supply of free assets, any form of assistance must be as rational as possible. Quite often, we should consider the liberalisation of economic relations instead of a mere increasing of aid, which is more complicated politically, yet would render better results,” stated the President of the Republic.
The Estonian head of state thanked Sir Holmes for leading UN humanitarian aid reform and added that the seminar, conducted today in Tallinn by the OCHA (Office for the Co-ordination of Human Affairs) to raise awareness of new and potential humanitarian aid donors, serves as one of the examples of Estonia's fine co-operation with the OCHA.
During Prime Minister Andrus Ansip's meeting with Under-Secretary General Holmes, the prime minister said that giving humanitarian relief was an important part of Estonian foreign policy because very many countries have supported Estonia in difficult times. "We want to give our best in that sphere," Ansip said. Estonia has taken example from the Nordic countries in shaping its humanitarian aid policy.



FOREIGN NEWS

Estonia Joining Euro Zone Discussed with Governor of Council of Europe Development Bank

8 June
- Foreign Minister Urmas Paet met in Tallinn with Governor of the Council of Europe Development Bank (CEB) Raphael Alomar, who says that the economic crisis is not over despite the signs that it seems to be stabilising.
While talking about Estonia's economic situation, Foreign Minister Paet noted that thanks to the strong buffers that were built up in the fiscal and finance sectors Estonia's financial situation is reasonably stable. “The foreign debt of Estonia's public sector is the lowest in the European Union,” stated Paet.
Foreign Minister Paet introduced Estonia's efforts to join the euro-zone to Alomar. “Transitioning to the euro is important for increasing security-in addition to financial security, it will also affect the general security of Estonia and the entire Baltic region,” said Urmas Paet.
The Council of Europe Development Bank, which until 1999 existed under the name of the Social Development Fund, was created in 1956 as a multilateral development bank to help refugees and displaced persons in Europe after World War II.
Estonia became a member in 1998. Currently the bank has 40 members. The CEB gives low-interest long-term loans for social projects to its member states and to legal individuals in its member states both with and without state guarantees.


Paet Met with Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov

4 June
- Foreign Minister Urmas Paet had a bilateral meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov within the framework of the meeting of the Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS) foreign ministers Denmark. The ministers discussed the state of Estonia-Russia relations and developments since their last meeting in December 2008.
Both foreign ministers felt positively about the political consultations that took place between the foreign ministries in January, where the main focus was on the practical issues of bilateral relations and intensifying communication between ministry departments. In June, consultations on European topics will take place in Tallinn between the Estonian and Russian foreign ministries.
The foreign ministers acknowledged that cultural relations between the two countries have been developing successfully. “The development of cultural relations is also reflected by the fact that during the Cultural Minister of the Russian Federation's visit to Tallinn in January of this year, an Estonia-Russia cultural co-operation programme for 2009-2011 was signed,” remarked Paet.
Urmas Paet stated that Estonia feels it is positive that in February Russia eliminated the discrepancy that had arisen with Estonia and Russia's international cargo agreement, and starting today, 4 June, the highway tax that was temporarily implemented for Estonian cargo trucks by Russia has been abolished.
Minister Paet expressed hope that the bilateral transportation commission would soon resume work. “Many open questions could be discussed within the framework of the Estonia-Russia bilateral transportation commission, for example the renovation of the Narva Bridge,” Paet remarked. “A direct flight between Tallinn and St. Petersburg and better transportation connections would be helpful for developing more contacts between people, as well as for tourism and business relations,” he added.
While talking about visa policy, Minister Paet confirmed that Estonia has done everything on its part to simplify the life of residents near borders since the expiration of the previous border-crossing system. “Estonia issues multiple-entry visas that are valid for many years. In addition to those living near the border, soon this liberal new system will be applied to all Russian citizens that apply for Estonia visas,” Paet emphasised at the meeting. “Another significant simplification is that Estonia is eliminating the requirement for a visa invitation when applying for an Estonian visa as of 30 July this year,” the foreign minister asserted. Paet expressed hope that Russia will soon find the opportunity to make reciprocal steps that would make movement easier for those living near the border and all Estonian citizens.
At the meeting, Paet confirmed Estonia's readiness to bring the prepared diplomatic real estate agreement to a conclusion and to complete the social security agreement.
Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov expressed readiness to move forward pragmatically with Estonia-Russia relations. He also mentioned the issue of the slow tempo of naturalisation in Estonia.


Estonia Hosts OSCE Experts' Seminar on Role of National Minorities in Inter-State Relations

7 June
- In co-operation with the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) High Commissioner for National Minorities, Estonia organised an international experts' seminar on the role of national minorities in inter-state relations to be held in Tallinn on 8 June.
At the seminar, experts will be discussing a new collection of recommendations, also called the Bolzano/Bozen Recommendations. Compiled by the Office of the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities, the Bolzano/Bozen Recommendations are based on today's international laws that regulate the activities of nations and inter-state communication regarding the support and protection of national minorities living in other nations.
Foreign Minister Urmas Paet confirms that promoting different national cultures enriches a society, and Estonia is very happy to be hosting the OSCE experts' seminar that addresses national minorities living abroad and inter-state co-operation. “Estonia recognises the work of the OSCE High Commissioner for National Minorities in helping with inter-state communication,” Paet noted. “There are many good examples in the world of how members of a national group living abroad will establish relations to strengthen the bridge between their country of origin and their new homeland. Estonia is prepared to share its positive experiences of communication with Estonians living abroad and their countries of residence,” Paet stated.
The High Commissioner for National Minorities introduced the Bolzano/Bozen Recommendations in October of 2008. The first seminar on the Bolzano/Bozen Recommendations took place in Slovenia in March of 2009, and the focus was on how the Bolzano/Bozen Recommendations can be implemented in the context of south-eastern Europe. The organisation of the second seminar in Estonia was decided when OSCE High Commissioner for National Minorities Knut Vollebaek visited Estonia in March of this year.
Participants from Iceland, Lithuania, Latvia, Norway, Poland, Sweden, Germany, Finland, Denmark, Russia and Belarus are expected to attend the seminar in Tallinn.


Estonia Supports Iceland's Accession to the European Union

4 June
- Foreign Minister Urmas Paet met with Icelandic Foreign Minister Össur Skarphedinsson in Elsinore, Denmark.
Paet and Skarphedinsson discussed Iceland's potential accession to the European Union. Foreign Minister Urmas Paet stated that Estonia welcomes the possibility of Iceland joining the European Union. “We have always supported the open-door policy for nations that are prepared to join. Iceland's accession to the European Union is very important for Estonia, and we are prepared to support Iceland in any way we can in this endeavour,” said Paet.
Foreign Minister Urmas Paet made a proposal to Icelandic Foreign Minister Össur Skarphedinsson that Estonia could share its experiences from joining the European Union with Iceland.
Paet invited representatives from Iceland to Estonia to become acquainted with Estonia's experiences with EU accession preparations, and Icelandic Foreign Minister Össur Skarphedinsson accepted the offer. “Estonia welcomes European Union enlargement, and we are ready to offer concrete advice to the appropriate Icelandic experts concerning accession preparations,” said Paet.
In talking about Estonia-Iceland relations, the ministers agreed that relations are very good. Bilateral relations have developed successfully; currently the central focus is on development co-operation projects and joint activities in the field of education. “Estonian university students have shown great interest in studying the Icelandic language and culture at Reykjavik University,” Paet noted.
Estonia participated in the Iceland air policing mission for the first time in co-operation with Denmark in March. Foreign Minister Paet extended an invitation for his Icelandic colleague to visit Estonia.


Paet and Stubb: Nordic and Baltic Countries Should Combine Forces in UN

5 June
- During their meeting today in Helsinki, Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet and Finnish Foreign Minister Alexander Stubb agreed that when Nordic and Baltic countries have candidacies for UN organs, the nations of the regions should unite and support the same candidates.
Paet and Stubb confirmed that Estonia-Finland relations are good and strong and mentioned their recent joint visit to Syria and Lebanon as an example of close co-operation. Paet made a proposal to his Finnish colleague to work together closely when applying for candidacy in international organisations. “When we have a candidacy for, for example, a UN organ, the Nordic and Baltic countries should join forces in order to achieve their goals and provide greater support for the candidate,” noted the Estonian foreign minister.
Foreign Minister Urmas Paet emphasised that in order to use the funds allocated for economic recovery in Europe by the European Union in March, we must move forward quickly with the Estlink 2 project. “Estonia has accepted the responsibility of opening its markets, and by the beginning of next year the market will in reality be 35% open. The Estonian electric market will be 100% open by 2013,” Paet stated. “If preliminary work on the Estlink 2 project would be underway soon, it would be possible to use the 100 million euros allocated in the European Economic Recovery Plan to establish the Estlink 2 sea cable and get the cable working by the beginning of 2014,” Paet said, stressing that Estonia would like to be a part of a common Nordic-Baltic electricity market.
The foreign ministers also discussed issues related to European Union enlargement. Paet stated that the delays in enlargement are discouraging. “Current developments suggest that it is likely that no chapters will be opened with either Croatia or Turkey before the end of June,” Paet said. “Neither accession negotiations nor the preparation of candidate countries should be stopped,” he emphasised. Paet and Stubb expressed support for Iceland's plans to accede to the European Union.
The ministers also addressed trade relations with Russia. “In terms of trade, it would be very welcome if Russia were to join the World Trade Organisation,” stated Paet.
The Estonian and Finnish foreign ministers both feel it is important for the Baltic Sea Region Strategy to be approved by the European Union during Sweden's upcoming presidency.


Council of Baltic Sea States Must Focus on Increasing Maritime Safety

4 June
- In his speech today at the meeting of the Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS) foreign ministers in Elsinore, Denmark, Foreign Minister Urmas Paet emphasised that the Baltic Sea has some of the busiest maritime traffic in the world along with being one of the most naturally sensitive maritime area.
“Through close co-operation in maritime security, we can prevent accidents and be ready to react when required,” Paet noted. Paet stated that maritime traffic in the Baltic Sea is expected to grow by 93% by 2020, and most of the traffic will consist of oil tankers. “We need stricter safety measures in order to come to terms with the increased traffic volume,” he added.
In addition to maritime safety, Paet also named fighting human trafficking, co-operation in battling radiation and in the field of nuclear security, and improving children's rights as the main values held by the CBSS. “We also must further develop our internal market, so that it can function without complications,” he added.
Foreign Minister Paet also expressed hope that the reform of the Council of the Baltic Sea States will continue during the upcoming chairmanship of Lithuania. The reform process commenced during the Latvian chairmanship. On 1 July 2009, the chairmanship will be handed by Denmark over to Lithuania.
Paet added that co-operation is important both within the CBSS as well as with strategic partners and CBSS observing countries. Paet welcomed the three new countries that will be observing the CBSS as of 1 July - Belarus, Romania and Spain. The current CBSS observing countries are France, Italy, the Netherlands, Slovakia, Ukraine, Great Britain, and the United States.


Estonian Head of State Met with German Minister of Defence

8 June
- “NATO must continue to pay great attention to its main function - collective defence,” said President Toomas Hendrik Ilves, at today's meeting with the German Minister of Defence, Mr. Franz Josef Jung. “For that purpose the alliance should increase its visibility, reliability and capability.”
According to President Ilves, the air policing operation of the Baltic states, launched in 2004, serves as a positive example of NATO's presence and visibility.
“This operation of NATO allies, which includes Germany, has been, on the one hand, a fine example of NATO's presence and the Baltic states as a part of that alliance, while on the other hand, it has contributed strongly to the security of the region and has helped put an end to the violation of our air space.”
President Ilves and Minister Jung also discussed the situation in Afghanistan where the army units of both country participate in the NATO-led operation. “Disquiet and largely decisive months will be ahead of us in Afghanistan due to the presidential election, as NATO's success will largely be determined by the decisiveness of the alliance and its allies as well as the commitment to a safe and stable Afghanistan,” President Ilves said.
President Ilves and Minister Jung also discussed the results of yesterday's European Parliament elections.


Estonia Joined NATO/EAPC Memorandum of Understanding for Improving Assistance in Crisis Areas

4 June
- Estonian Ambassador to NATO Jüri Luik signed the NATO and Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC) Memorandum of Understanding for improving the efficiency of international assistance in crisis or disaster areas on Thursday, 4 June. Estonia is the 25th nation to join this memorandum.
The purpose of the memorandum is to facilitate the administration of international aid in disaster areas. The document focuses on the transport of aid teams and necessary supplies to the destination and back to the original countries after the end of the mission, including the issues of transport, visas and customs. By joining the memorandum, Estonia is creating better possibilities for reaching a potential disaster area. The document came into force upon being signed.
The memorandum, which was approved by NATO/EAPC in 2006, is open to all EAPC and Partnership for Peace (PfP) nations. Some of the nations that have joined the memorandum are the Netherlands, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Germany, and the United Kingdom.



DOMESTIC NEWS

Ergma Speaks at 125th Anniversary of Estonian Tricolour Flag

4 June (BNS
) - Speaking at a festive flag-raising ceremony on the 125th anniversary of the Estonian tricolour flag on Tallinn's Toompea citadel, Speaker of the Estonian Parliament Ene Ergma expressed pleasure at young people cherishing the flag of the country.
"Every generation wants for the ideals they have held dear would stand the test of time. It is good to know that today's young people cherish our country and our flag. Our forefathers' decision has been to be free and it is the decision of our young people to hold the blue, black and white flag high in the future as well," Ergma said.
She said that the national movement period freed the Estonian national spirit and the time of the Singing Revolution brought back the blue, black and white flag to proudly wave in the Estonian sky. "It was the blue, black and white flag that granted us Estonians the resolution to achieve freedom through songs, to win back our freedom," Ergma said.
She said that 125 years ago Parson Rudolf Kallas at the Otepää Priory blessed the first Estonian national tricolour and people fought under that flag in the War of Independence; 91 years ago the flag was raised on Pikk Hermann Tower for the first time.
"Our flag has survived the period of occupation, kept close to the hearts of many people as a dear secret flag," Ergma said and mentioned as an important date the moment when the Estonian national flag was raised in front of the European Parliament building and Estonia became a full member of the European Union.
"I was proud of Estonia and of our flag, both of which returned to Europe. Raising the flag at the festive ceremony today lets us believe that the Estonian flag will live as a symbol of our freedom also years from now," Ergma added.


Representatives to European Parliament Elected

7 June (BNS)
- The opposition Centre Party, winner in Sunday's election to the European Parliament in Estonia, is set to have incumbent MEP Siiri Oviir and Vilja Savisaar, the number 3 on the party's ticket, fill the two seats it won in the European Parliament.
The number 1 of Centre's list of candidates in the election conducted with closed tickets is the party's leader Edgar Savisaar, who has said earlier that he won't go to the European Parliament and will keep his present job as mayor of Tallinn.
Tunne Kelam is expected to stay on as the Pro Patria and Res Publica Union (IRL) deputy in the European Parliament, while former Foreign Minister Kristiina Ojuland and former Finance Minister Ivari Padar are to take the seats won by the Reform Party and Social Democrats, respectively.
The sixth Estonian seat goes to independent candidate Indrek Tarand.


Voter Turnout in Estonia Reaches 43.2 Percent

7 June (BNS
) - According to preliminary figures, 392 494 people or 43.2% of all voters came to the polls in today's elections to the European Parliament in Estonia.
Online voters numbered 58 669, which makes up 14.9% of the total.
The turnout was highest in the capital city Tallinn at 53.7%. In Harju County, which includes Tallinn, the turnout was 48%, in the northeastern largely Russian-populated East-Viru County 45.5%, and in Tartu, the second-largest city, 40.2%.
The lowest activity was recorded in the island of Saaremaa where 32.2% of voters came to the polls. In the island county of Hiiumaa and the southern Võru County turnout of 33.9% was recorded.
In the previous European polls five years ago 233 450 people or 26.8% of all voters took part.



DEFENCE NEWS

Additional Estonian Company in Afghanistan to Operate Together with US Marines

4 June (BNS)
- An Estonian company to be temporarily dispatched to Afghanistan to provide security for the country's presidential elections will work in co-operation with US Marines.
Col. Neeme Vali, chief of staff of the Estonian Defence Forces, met with the command of the 2nd Expeditionary Brigade of the US Marines at the Camp Leatherneck military base in Afghanistan and discussed with them details of the activity of the additional company to be dispatched to Helmand Province of Afghanistan for the period of the presidential elections there, Capt. Tanel Rutman, the Defence Forces liaison officer in Afghanistan, told BNS.
"Estonia has decided that after the conclusion of the Iraq mission our co-operation with the United States will continue in international military operations," Col. Vali said. He said the additional company to be sent to Helmand Province was the first result of that decision.
"Estonian soldiers have very good co-operation experience with US units from Iraq, and our infantry company served in Now Zad, Afghanistan, together with US marines," the chief of staff said. "The Americans know what Estonian soldiers are like and what operations they are capable of carrying out, and they know what the training of our units and their equipment is."
A bill stating that an additional company, to operate under US command, will be dispatched to Afghanistan's Helmand Province for the country's presidential election period has passed its first reading in parliament. According to the bill, up to 140 Estonian soldiers will be used in the NATO-lead peacekeeping mission in the period from 1 July until 1 December.
The primary training of the unit will be concluded in June.
The Estcoy-8 infantry company, the NSE-7 national support element, staff officers and non-coms, a total of about 150 soldiers, are now serving in South Afghanistan's Helmand Province. The Estonian infantry company operates under British command.


Aaviksoo Met with German Minister of Defence

6 June
- Today, Minister of Defence Jaak Aaviksoo met with German Defence Minister Franz Josef Jung, with whom issues related to NATO's Strategic Concept and Response Forces (NRF) were mainly discussed.
According to Minister of Defence Aaviksoo, Estonia and Germany share a clear common interest in relation to the new Strategic Concept of NATO that is being prepared - according to both countries, collective defence together with the operations conducted outside the borders of NATO must remain the main function of NATO.
“Estonia and Germany also agree that the actual capability of the NATO Response Forces must be brought into conformity with the goals once set for them,” Aaviksoo said.
Jung and Aaviksoo also confirmed good bilateral co-operation with regard to the training of the members of the Estonian Defence Forces in Germany and the launch of the NATO Cyber Defence Centre.
The extensive defence-related co-operation between Estonia and Germany is mainly reflected by the working level co-operation projects with regard to the training of the members of the Defence Forces and the procurement of equipment. The German Air Force will also assume the air policing of the Baltic States, in September of this year.
Defence Minister Jung, who is on a two-day visit to Estonia, also met with Prime Minister Andrus Ansip and visited the NATO Cyber Defence Centre. Yesterday, Jung met with the President of the Republic Toomas Hendrik Ilves.


Estonian Soldier Wounded in Afghanistan

4 June (BNS)
- Anti-government rebels in Afghanistan Thursday morning attacked a foot patrol of Estonian soldiers near Nad-e-Ali in Helmand Province.
An Estonian soldier taking part in the NATO operation was wounded in the explosion of an improvised explosive device.
The squad medic immediately gave medical aid to the seriously wounded soldier and he was then taken to the Pimon patrol base and from there by helicopter to a third degree field hospital where he was operated on.
"Estonian soldiers are very tough, and we all hope that he will recover," Major Peeter Tali, head of the Defence Forces headquarters information department, told BNS. He added that the soldier wounded in the battle was a machine-gunner.
The Defence Forces will not make public the name of the wounded soldier or the nature of his wounds, because the personal information protection act prohibits publication of delicate personal data.
The third level field hospital has exceptional diagnostic capability in field conditions and the opportunity of intensive care.
About 40 Estonian soldiers have been wounded in Afghanistan.


Estonian Concluded Contract for Procurement of Radar Systems

6 June
- Estonia concluded a procurement contract, together with the Finnish Ministry of Defence and the French company Thales-Raytheon Systems, for the procurement of two 3D medium range radar systems, which will cover Estonia and its surrounding airspace with a single radar image.
Estonia and Finland will together procure a total of 14 radar systems of the Ground Master 403 series. The two radar systems intended for Estonia are meant to supplement Estonia's current sole 3D long range radar in Kellavere in West-Viru County, and to also provide a sufficient air surveillance image for Western and South-eastern Estonia. The air surveillance image created thanks to the procurement will increase early warning time in case of possible crisis situations, and is also the prerequisite for air policing operations and air defence missile systems, the procurement of the latter is planned for the future. Also, as a member of NATO, Estonia is required to provide elementary radar coverage on its territory and to some extent also outside of the Alliance's external border. Minister of Defence Jaak Aaviksoo expressed hope that the joint procurement with Finland creates a good basis for future joint procurements. “Several priorities of the Estonian National Defence Development Plan for 2009-2018 - air surveillance and air defence, communications and command systems, rapid response capability - overlap with the long-term planning directions of Finnish national defence,” noted Aaviksoo.
According to Finland's Minister of Defence, Jyri Häkämies, co-operation with Estonia in the radar acquisition is mutually beneficial and useful. “Materiel co-operation enhances further relations between Estonian and Finnish defence administrations,” said Minister of Defence Häkämies. For Estonia, the procurement totals 350 mln EEK. Since Finland and Estonia have procured a total of 14 radar systems, the producer can, thanks to production efficiency, offer the systems at very reasonable prices - technically Estonia gets two radar systems for the price of one thanks to the joint procurement with Finland.
The Thales-Raytheon Systems Ground Master 403 radar systems are capable of detecting aircraft at a range of up to 470 km and at an altitude of up to 30 km. These are mobile systems, which mean that when it is necessary the radar can be relocated from its permanent position and set up elsewhere within an hour.
In addition to two primary radar systems, the procurement includes secondary radar systems, generators for the radar systems, containers, vehicles, training and radomes (domes to cover the radar systems when they are in their stationary positions).
According to the procurement contract, Thales-Raytheon Systems has the obligation to make offset purchases with a procurement contract of similar scope from Estonian enterprises. This way, the radar procurement also provides support for the development of innovative and high-tech industries in Estonia.
The Estonian and Finnish Ministries of Defence concluded a Memorandum of Understanding in October 2007 for carrying out the joint radar procurement. According to the memorandum, the Finnish Air Force, with the participation of the Estonian Ministry of Defence and experts of the Defence Forces, prepared an invitation for tender to determine the most suitable radar system.



ECONOMIC NEWS

Currency Rates in Kroons
(Bank of Estonia)


Tallink's Passenger Numbers Grow 11.1 Percent on Year in May

3 June (BNS)
- The listed Estonian shipper Tallink Grupp carried a total of 657 335 passengers during May, an 11.1% larger number than in May 2008.
On the route between Estonia and Finland, Tallink carried 303 997 passengers last month, 13.7% more than in May a year ago.
Passengers travelling between Estonia and Sweden numbered 80 522, which marks an increase of 15.1%, the company announced on Wednesday.
The number of passengers travelling between Sweden and Finland grew 3.3% to 217 217, while the number of passengers travelling between Latvia and Sweden soared 46% to 48 563.
The number of cars carried by Tallink grew 34% to 71 195 in May.
The number of freight units shipped declined 27% year on year to 20 250.
Passengers carried by Tallink on all routes during the three months from March to May, or in the third quarter of the financial year that started in September, numbered 1.83 million. That marks an annual increase of 12.4%.
The number of passengers and cars alike grew on all of Tallink's main routes. On the Estonia-Finland route the quarterly passenger number was up 14% at 824 759 while on the route between Estonia and Sweden it climbed 2.5% to 195 599.


Estonia Destination for One Sixth of Trips by Finns in April

3 Jue (BNS)
- Estonia was the destination for one-sixth of the overall number of trips abroad by Finns involving an overnight stay during April, it appears from data made available by Finland's statistical office.
The number of foreign trips by Finns in April was 430 000, a 12% higher figure than in the same month a year ago, STT news agency said.
The number of cruise trips by Finns to Estonia meanwhile dropped by more than a third year on year.
Domestic tourism gained popularity in Finland this year, with the number of trips within the country increasing by one-sixth compared with April 2008.





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